Be a Hummingbird, Not a Gnat

Hummingbird flying next to beautiful pink flower, pink bloom in background
Oak Tree Business Systems Inc.

3 minutes

3 leadership lessons

The other day I had a few minutes to myself and found myself thinking about the difference between gnats and hummingbirds.

Gnats can be annoying. Okay, gnats are always annoying. I cannot remember a time where I thought to myself, “I am really grateful for that gnat.”) These insects move seemingly without purpose and love to hang around such strong scents as sweat and animals.

Now consider hummingbirds. They are not attracted to sweaty things at all. No, they love bright flowers that are full of life and provide nourishment. They flit and zip from one flower to the next in the blink of an eye. They take deep, long drinks from the flower, full of sweet nectar. The flower responds by producing more. The cycle is perpetual.

So, while the gnat looks for heat and wet sweat, the hummingbird looks for sweet. What a difference between the two. Look closely and you’ll see leadership lessons to be taken from all of this. Let’s unpack and take a look at three of them.

1.    Life is what you make it. If all you see around you are bad things and negative circumstances, that’s all you will ever see. The gnat flies past thousands of beautiful flowers full of sweet nectar, but settles for sweat instead. Meanwhile, the hummingbird can find the most beautiful flower in a trash dump and draw nourishment from it.

2.    Pestering is micro-management, not motivaton. If you think pointing out every flaw in a team member’s work is good management, you are mistaken. That behavior is just annoying. This is not how you push someone to excellence. Treat them like the hummingbird does a beautiful flower. Team members should feel like management is attracted to them because they have something to offer.

3.    Draw value out of your team. Notice the hummingbird does not have an easy life. To say stable enough draw the value out of a flower, it has to flap its wings incredibly fast. Then it has to reach deep inside the flower itself to extract the value (nectar). So goes leadership. Do the hard work of drawing out the value of your team. Reciprocity will follow as you notice they begin to produce more value for you to extract.

In short, be a hummingbird not a gnat. You can choose to only see the negative circumstances around you or to look for the beauty. You have the choice to lead like the hummingbird or micro-manage like the gnat. Choose to operate like a hummingbird and you will find a deep well full of employee traits like productivity, excellence and respect.

Richard Gallagher, CEO of Oak Tree Business Systems Inc., Big Bear Lake, Calif., is no stranger to the credit union industry, having spent 26 years as senior executive where he oversees forms compliance, credit union merger guidance, expertise and policy considerations and is one of the pioneers of digital forms conversion and data linking/integration for credit unions. At Oak Tree, he is surround by an outstanding team of people, each with irreplaceable specialities and nuances. A computer science and political science major, Gallagher loves the exchanges on issues taking place in credit unions day to day. He is involved with Credit Unions for Kids.

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